Category Archives: State Government
Rep. Bennie Thompson’s Proposal to Remove Mississippi State Flag from U.S. Capitol on Hold Until State Legislature Acts
The Republican who heads the congressional committee considering a measure to remove the Mississippi state flag from the House side of the U.S. Capitol says she wants to hear from the Mississippi legislature—which does not convene until 2016.
The resolution to remove the Mississippi flag, which exhibits in an upper corner the emblem of the Confederate battle flag, was offered by Representative Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi.
“Without a doubt, the unprecedented step of removing a state flag from our nation’s Capitol would be a most serious act and something which requires thoughtful deliberation and input from all parties, especially from those whose flag is being debated for removal,” writes Committee on House Administration Chair Candice Miller of Michigan in a letter Tuesday to Democrats.
“I would also like to hear from elected leaders at Mississippi’s state level,” Miller goes on to write.
Mississippi Lt. Governor Tate Reeves discouraged voters from supporting Educational Initiative 42 at the weekly meeting of the Columbus Rotary Club at Lion Hills at noon on Tuesday.
“When you look at what ultimately will occur if this ballot issue passes and becomes law,” he said, “I think you should be very concerned about the ultimate implications of it passing.”
Reeves claimed that if Initiative 42 becomes part of the state’s constitution, the decision-making for both educational funding and educational policy would be in the hands of the judicial branch of government, rather than the legislative branch. Specifically, he claimed, the decisions would be made by one judge in Hinds County.
Reeves went on to say that because funding for K-12 education makes up 50 percent of the state budget, the judge would have control over the other 50 percent of the budget as well.
Initiative 42 would require the state to fund an “adequate and efficient system of free public schools,” according to the funding formula of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. The initiative would also give chancery courts the power to enforce the state doing so.
“So that basically means that funding for K-12 will be decided by this Initiative 42, but funding for community colleges, funding for (institutions of higher learning) and funding for everything else in state government, for all intents and purposes, will no longer be in the legislative branch of government but will be in the judicial branch,” he said. “And it’s something that I think you should be very wary of, and I hope you will study on the issue before you make the decision about how you’re going to vote on that particular initiative.”
Sponsors of the Term Limits Ballot Initiative will officially kick off the signature gathering drive at the Mississippi State Capitol on Thursday afternoon, July 23. Following the announcement at 2:30 sponsors will meet with volunteers to organize efforts across the state.
The initiative has been given the official ballot initiative number 51. It would limit the number of consecutive terms a person can serve in the same state house, state senate or statewide elected office to no more than two terms. Following sitting out a full four years, or holding a different office during that time, a person may then run for the previously held office again.
“Many other states have passed different forms of term limits,” said initiative sponsor Keith Plunkett. “Some of these had unintended consequences of shutting good qualified candidates out of office forever. That is the exact opposite of what this initiative will do.”
Plunkett says Mississippi’s term limits initiative will encourage more participation in the governing process, not less, encouraging more to get involved in public service and provide more choices for voters.
“If a particular office holder has the will of the people in mind and is truly representing them, then that elected official will have a broad coalition of engaged citizens supporting their stance on the issues,” said Plunkett. “With term limits, any one of those citizens then get a chance to take that same vision and those same values with them to Jackson as the next citizen representative, refreshing the pool of leadership in the community and in Jackson. In this way representation at the state capitol and in statewide offices become less about who you know in politics at the state capitol and more about who you represent at home. It also makes campaigns less about personality contests, money and negative attacks and more about discussion of policy.”
Senator Chris McDaniel will also be speaking in support of the initiative at the event.
“Until the people in communities across this state have an even playing field with the lobbyists and bureaucrats then we can’t hope to have good public oversight of state government,” said McDaniel. “And until we do that we can’t begin to fight the corruption that keeps Mississippi on the bottom.”
Term Limits MS Press Release
BY: Steve Wilson | Watchdog.org
A new report by nonprofit State Budget Solutions says Mississippi’s Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi is carrying $56 billion in unfunded liabilities, worst in the nation — now at 53 percent of the gross state product in 2013. It covers only 27 percent of the state’s liabilities, which is fifth-worst.
The state’s PERS system — according to its latest financial report — paints a far rosier portrait. It has just $14.4 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to its latest report. That’s still far below the 80 percent funding level considered the benchmark for a healthy pension fund.
Joe Luppino-Esposito, author of the study and an editor and general counsel of State Budget Solutions, said via email the study uses a “fair market valuation” to calculate the unfunded liability of the nation’s pension funds, now up to $4.7 trillion nationwide and counting.
BY: Joy Pullman | Heartland Institute
When the Obama administration began writing its own laws under the guise of No Child Left Behind waivers in 2011, it snuck into the thousands of pages of bureaucratese a requirement for “teacher equity.” Now, the administration has reminded states it wasn’t joking.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education wrote states a letter demanding they submit “teacher equity plans” to the feds by next June.
The problem: Research shows poor and minority children are typically taught by less-experienced and lower-quality teachers. This is in large part one outgrowth of allowing unions to dictate teacher hiring policies. Union contracts give teachers who have remained in a particular school district longer the ability to “bump” new teachers out of preferred teaching spots (of course, teaching in tough schools is not as attractive as the alternatives). Union contracts also bar school districts from paying teachers different salaries for taking on harder work–such as teaching math or science, or working in worse environments.
Don’t expect states to propose right-to-work laws or ending teacher tenure as solutions to the problem of poor kids getting worse teachers. Do expect them to conduct a sort of endless tax- laundering scheme, whereby taxpayers send the federal government money, it sends the money to state departments of education along with mandates such as “teacher equity plans,” and state departments shuffle paperwork back to the feds after paying the salaries of people who are apparently happy to spend their lives writing impotent, thousand-page sketches of La-La Land.
If this were all an exercise in bureaucracy, taxpayers would be a bit poorer but otherwise none the worse. If and when state plans for redistributing teachers include coercion and manipulation, as government schemes tend to be, however, expect the unintended consequences of monopoly education to intensify. Watch for plans where state officials, rather than local school districts, assign teachers to schools; where teachers aim for mediocrity instead of excellence because excellence gets them reassigned to schools where they don’t want to teach; and where poor children are treated like hot potatoes.
This is what happens when central planners keep tightening their ratchets to impede and distort even more personal choices rather than allowing individuals to freely align their choices with others’ within a free-enterprise system. In that environment, teachers who choose harder work would be rewarded, which would draw excellent teachers who love a challenge right where they’re needed without any need for filtering tax dollars through bureaucrats’ hands or pushing teachers around. What a concept.
Longtime Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps is resigning, amid a federal investigation, according to multiple sources confirming to clarionledger.com
Epps could not immediately be reached for comment.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering said he is aware of Epps’ resignation, but, “I cannot make further comment at this time.”
House Corrections Chairman Tommy Taylor said he had received calls Wednesday “saying (Epps) is going to resign effective today,” but had no further details. Other sources say Epps has already submitted his resignation to Gov. Phil Bryant.
A spokesman for Bryant could not immediately be reached for comment.